Most homeowners are floored when they get a bid for a construction project because they look at the raw numbers, such as the cost of the materials and the labor to complete the project, without an understanding of all the hidden costs. A large portion of the hidden costs are the related government codes and fees, which many argue is the reason for the affordable housing crisis. Failure to understand these costs usually leads to cost overruns, frustration with government bureaucracies and completed projects that do not meet the expectations of their owners.

First and foremost, Lake County has high impact fees and building permit fees, which are two separate fees. In South Lake County, impact fees for an average size home are $12,933 and, in general, the building permit fees will run almost $1,000 if there is no well or septic tank. Well and septic tank permits are very expensive and more complicated to acquire. Plus, in many cases, if there is a home addition the homeowner will be required to have a septic tank inspection, which could lead to a replacement unit if the tank is not up to code or not big enough. Before the first shovel of dirt is turned, government will fee and hassle you to death. So be prepared.

Utility hookups can be very expensive as many cities in Lake County charge connection fees that can range from a few hundred dollars to almost $3,000. Plus, most electricity providers charge fees to set temporary power poles and to permanently hook-up power. Everyone must get paid.

Starting with the dirt, you will need to have a termite treatment and compaction test before you get started. After these are completed, the plumbing is installed and the slab is poured. With the current labor shortage, expect delays as many subcontractors are overwhelmed and understaffed. Because of the huge increase in workers’ compensation insurance rates and new overtime rates, don’t be surprised if old bids are increased. There are numerous new inspections during the construction process. If a detail is missed there will be re-inspection fees, which can really add up.

Other expenses that are usually not accounted for include: Builder’s risk liability insurance (which protects your project against accidents, fire, theft, and vandalism), blueprint and engineering fees, permit boxes and plan copies, interest payments on any loan while the construction project is in progress, trash removal and landscaping. Yes, landscaping. Because of Lake County code requirements, you may be forced to upgrade and expand landscaping as well as upgrade your sprinkler system.

There is little doubt — for a novice homeowner contemplating a project — that this list of hidden costs seems daunting and unreasonable. Well, you are right. Maybe that is the reason why $100,000 homes cannot be constructed in this area. The most important thing to keep in mind when planning a project is to make a real budget that includes the hidden costs. Be precise and don’t take guesses. Demand these entities provide you with real numbers so you can eliminate surprises. Then be prepared to be patient because government will throw up roadblocks at every step in the process. Paper their file, follow their guidelines and you will almost end up with the home or construction project of your dreams.

Don Magruder is the CEO of Ro-Mac Lumber & Supply Inc. He is also the host of the Around the House radio show heard every Monday at noon on My790AM WLBE in Leesburg.